zondag 29 juni 2003

New York Times

Harry Crushes the Hulk

Here's what's wrong with kids in the digital age. They live in front of their TV and PC screens. They steal music online. Their attention span is zilch. They multitask on everything and concentrate on nothing except video games. They will buy any trashy product that the media goliaths can sell them, then drop it as soon as the next big hype comes along. That's merely the short list of hard-wired assumptions that were short-circuited by last weekend's publication of "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix." On Saturday alone, J. K. Rowling's fifth novel sold five million copies nationwide. In a culture where little registers until it's measured in dollars, just do the math. Figure an average price of $20 a "Harry" (allowing for widely varying discounts on the $29.99 list price), and you have a one-day gross, as Variety would say, of $100 million. That's more money than the competing Hollywood fantasy, "The Hulk," brought in for its entire opening weekend ($62 million), and, assuming a very conservative average of two readers per book, a larger audience as well.

zaterdag 28 juni 2003

Business Week

Coming Soon: A Horror Show for TV Ads

TiVo's digital recorders indicate that viewers don't necessarily watch the ads, even on hit shows. Agencies and networks are still in denial. "I know that 50% of my advertising is wasted. I just don't know which half," retail guru John Wanamaker famously quipped in 1886. Things haven't improved much since then. Magazines and newspapers still sell ads based on circulation, and TV networks have sold ads based on viewer ratings for the last 50 years, even though no one knows whether anyone actually watches commercials. More than a century after Wanamaker's lament, advertising remains as much an art as a science.

RFID Chips Are Here

RFID chips are being embedded in everything from jeans to paper money, and your privacy is at stake. Bar codes are something most of us never think about. We go to the grocery store to buy dog food, the checkout person runs our selection over the scanner, there's an audible beep or boop, and then we're told how much money we owe. Bar codes in that sense are an invisible technology that we see all the time, but without thinking about what's in front of our eyes.

vrijdag 27 juni 2003


The Revolution Will (Finally) Be Televised

When you hear the following terms, which medium comes to mind? Interactive. Clicks. Links. Lead generation. Portals. User data. Tracking. Opt-in (and -out). Real-time data. Brand metrics. Accountability. Cookies. CPM. Keyword search. Home network. Streaming. Broadband. Dial-up. Precision geotargeting. Retention. Acquisition. User control. Did you answer, "the Internet"? You've got some catching up to do. It's high time all you Luddite marketers out there became familiar with a radical new advertising medium: television.

woensdag 25 juni 2003

Business Week

How Amazon Opens Up and Cleans Up

By allowing friendly hackers to access its data and feeds, the e-commerce giant is creating a fast-growing ecosystem where buying and selling thrive. When Paul Bausch goes to the bookstore or mall, he brings along his cell phone -- but not to chat with friends about his purchases. Bausch, a programmer and Web developer by trade, has written a simple piece of software that lets him download onto his handset lists of favorite items on Amazon.com. If Bausch wants to check out a cooking gadget before he buys it at a store, he can pull up his wish list and make sure he's looking at the right model. He can also check the store price against Amazon's. Or, he says, "I can click through right on Amazon if I want to have it delivered."

dinsdag 24 juni 2003

Business 2.0

Downloading the Future of TV Advertising

With a plink and a plunk and 86 moving parts, Honda reminds the ad world of the value of great content -- and teaches it something about the power of interactivity. Through the simple act of releasing a remarkable television commercial onto the Web, the U.K. wing of automobile giant Honda (HMC) has unleashed something of a typhoon in the advertising business. Though it has yet to fully play out, Honda's ad proves the value of content and could stand as a turning point in the history of the television spot -- proof that interactivity won't kill television advertising, as many are now predicting, but may instead be instrumental in saving it.

maandag 23 juni 2003

New York Times

More Companies Pay Heed to Their 'Word of Mouse' Reputation

Early this year, the wrath of the World Wide Web rained down on Intuit when its TurboTax software programs displeased some customers, who then promptly posted their grievances all over Internet forums. The velocity in the spread of those critical remarks created a crisis for the company and a colorful case study for the budding academic field that examines the dynamic of online reputations. In January, soon after TurboTax's release, angry customer reviews flooded Extremetech.com, CNET.com, Slashdot.org and many other sites that allow the public to contribute product reviews. Much of the criticism was aimed at antipiracy features in the software that made it hard for a customer to install the program on more than one computer and created the impression with some that Intuit was tracking users surreptitiously. On Amazon.com one reviewer wrote, "This reeks to high heaven!" Comments descended from there.

zaterdag 21 juni 2003


E-Mail Mob Takes Manhattan

There were no peasants waving torches or pitchforks in this crowd, no procession up a winding, eerie mountain road to flush out the monster who'd been terrorizing their town. The mob that gathered in Manhattan on Tuesday night was looking for something they referred to (without explanation) as a "Love Rug." Or at least that's what the couple of hundred people who gathered in Macy's department store told a bemused salesman, who may or may not have believed he was dealing with a commune of carpet-craving eccentrics. The crowd of people was participating in the Mob Project, an e-mail-driven experiment in organizing groups of people who suddenly materialize in public places, interact with others according to a loose script and then dissipate just as suddenly as they appeared.

woensdag 18 juni 2003


The New Pet Craze: Robovacs

Just as owners of robot pets like Sony's Aibo develop emotional attachments to their mechanical companions, people are acquiring similar feelings for their robot vacuum cleaners. The two leading robovac manufacturers -- iRobot and Electrolux -- report that owners treat their robovacs somewhat like pets. More than half the owners of iRobot's Roomba name their device, claims the Burlington, Massachussetts, company. Owners often talk to their machines, and many treat them as though they were alive, or semi-sentient, anyway. Some even take them on holiday, unwilling to leave them at home alone.

vrijdag 13 juni 2003

The New York Times

Voyager to a Strange Planet

In the year 29477, at the distant end of a strife-torn galaxy, one of the most famous residents of the planet Rubi-Ka is a genetically engineered mutant called Thedeacon. He is an ugly mutant, prideful and lewd. The spectacle of his wealth is surpassed by the vulgarity of his tongue. He sexually accosts strangers - be they female, male or neuter - and is renowned for his undying fetish for feet. Thedeacon is also a kind mutant, a leader and beacon. Among Rubi-Ka's weaker citizens, he is revered for his generosity of mind, for sharing the information others need to prosper. Among the planet's elite, he is respected for his generosity of spirit, for comforting the lovesick and the lonely. Thedeacon does not physically exist, of course. In the year 2003, at the blue-collar end of Madison, Wis., he is a struggling, frustrated 27-year-old computer repairman called Richard L. Stenlund.
Business Week

At Last, the Web Hits 100 MPH

The spread of broadband may finally allow the Net to reach its full commercial potential -- and change the way people live. Jon Nordmark has been through the e-tail bust, so the CEO of eBags Inc. has learned that the next cool thing is rarely what it seems. Yet he increasingly thinks broadband will be boffo. The evidence: In tests, customers who watch videos about the luggage he sells are 19% more likely to buy than customers who just look at pictures on his site. "We don't go hog-wild on any new idea until we have proven its effectiveness," Nordmark says. "Now we have."

dinsdag 10 juni 2003


The music biz in a Pearl Jam

Bands come and go from record labels in a revolving door of euphoria and dejection, so when the news came out that Pearl Jam had fulfilled its contract and was leaving Epic after 12 years, many in the industry shrugged and went back to their Mocha Malt Frappucinos. But this is more than just another band leaving just another label. This is one institution leaving another, the most popular and important American rock band of the �90s voluntarily rejecting the grandest label heritage � the longtime home of Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Santana, Miles Davis and Tony Bennett � because the band may no long require the services of a major label.
Strategy + Business

Cybertrust: An Economic Imperative

Trust may be the most underestimated asset in commerce. Almost all transactions involve some potential for misrepresentation, noncompliance, or fraud. To deal with those risks, parties to commercial transactions rely upon elaborate contracts, arrange to monitor performance, or turn to litigation. These methods all work, but they are all costly. Mutual trust, when it exists, is a far better and more efficient alternative; it substantially lowers transaction costs, and it can offer a big competitive advantage. One World Bank study, using a regression analysis covering the 1980s, suggests that a 10 percent difference in the degree of generic trust among the citizens of a nation is reflected in a 0.8 percent variance in that country�s rate of economic growth. With average annual growth worldwide in the range of 1 to 3 percent during the same period, it is easy to see the payback in building trust.

maandag 9 juni 2003

Tecnology Review

Convergence Is Reality

Who would have anticipated that reality television would turn out to be the killer app of media convergence? Imagine Survivor as a giant cat and mouse game being played between producers and consumers. The producers plant clues, foreshadow results, and offer hints in interviews, trying to create enormous public interest they can harvest for their advertisers. Week by week, the eagerly anticipated results are fodder for water cooler discussions and get reported as news�even on rival networks.

Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom

Imagine you woke up one day and Walt Disney had taken over the world. Not only that, but money's been abolished and somebody's developed the Cure for Death. Welcome to the Bitchun Society and make sure you're strapped in tight, because it's going to be a wild ride. In a world where everyone's wishes can come true, one man returns to the original, crumbling city of dreams Disney World. Here in the spiritual center of the Bitchun Society he struggles to find and preserve the original, human face of the Magic Kingdom against the young, post-human and increasingly alien inheritors of the Earth. Now that any experience can be simulated, human relationships become ever more fragile; and to Julius, the corny, mechanical ghosts of the Haunted Mansion have come to seem like a precious link to a past when we could tell the real from the simulated, the true from the false. Cory Doctorow cultural critic, Disneyphile, and ultimate Early Adopter uses language with the reckless confidence of the Beat poets. Yet behind the dazzling prose and vibrant characters lie ideas we should all pay heed to. The future rushes on like a plummeting roller coaster, and it's hard to see where we're going. But at least with this book Doctorow has given us a map of the park.
The Observer

If you really want to know, ask a blogger

Assiduous students of the print media will have noticed its practitioners becoming increasingly exercised about 'blogging' - the practice of publishing web-logs or online journals. On 18 May, for example, one Geoffrey Nunberg fulminated in the New York Times about the fact that whenever one does a Google search on any topical issue, the top page rankings often go to blogs rather than established media sources (such as the New York Times ).

zondag 8 juni 2003

Business 2.0

It's All About Who You Know

Social networking software is intriguing. But does it really replace the old-fashioned method of making connections? Today's column got its start when Kevin Werbach, another tech commentator, sent me a request to join his "network" at the new site LinkedIn. I was curious about LinkedIn, so Werbach helped me contact its founder, Reid Hoffman -- even though Werbach doesn't know Hoffman personally (the two just "have friends in common"). Werbach helped me meet someone useful to my work. And this is just what Hoffman is trying to systematize with his service.
Business Week

Phone Companies Find Bundles of Joy

Packages that combine wireless, Web, and other services could be just what the telecoms need to boost revenues and retain customers. Way back in 1998, AT&T; introduced its Digital One Rate plan, which promised the same per-minute charge for long-distance and local calls made via cell phone -- and it was a huge financial hit. That year, the plan got credit for a third-quarter increase of 19%, to $1.42 billion, in the revenues of AT&T; Wireless, which hadn't yet been spun off from AT&T; (T ). The division's subscriber list grew 74% in that quarter alone, to 325,000. "The Digital One rate has turned out to be a home run," Michael Armstrong, AT&T;'s chairman, said at the time.

vrijdag 6 juni 2003

Mercury News

Hey Tony, outta the way, mob moves on `Sims Online'

Tony Soprano can keep Jersey (who wants it, anyways?) A new family is movin' in on unclaimed turf -- online. An underground group known as the Sims Shadow Government has taken over the fantasy world that is ``The Sims Online,'' meting out mob justice. It's a violent twist for ``The Sims,'' the dollhouse-inspired computer game that has long been portrayed as the antithesis to guns-'n-gore bestsellers like ``Grand Theft Auto.'' The emergence of a seedy underbelly in the online game may reveal more about the dark fantasies of middle-aged suburbanites than anyone suspected.

What's In A Pipe?

When the telephone was first invented and marketed, the people behind this "new" technology saw it as another way of getting content to people. It was seen to be a wired form of media, like radio, having the ability to deliver, weather, news, music, stock quotes and entertainment. Sure some of these telephone services are around today, but they are hardly the reason why the majority uses the humble fixed line phone. The explosion of the telephone came from point-to-point usage, a way to facilitate communication between individuals and essentially it remains true to this today.

So why do Telco's continue to push down the content path with the lessons of the past so clearly written on the wall?

woensdag 4 juni 2003


Building a TiVo, a Step at a Time

Forget TiVo and ReplayTV. If you want a really super-duper digital video recorder, you have to build your own. All you need is knowledge of Linux, plenty of cash for hardware and, if anything goes wrong, hundreds of hours to troubleshoot the device. Thanks to several open-source projects, you can build your own digital video recorder that will blow boxes from TiVo and ReplayTV right off the shelf. About a dozen collaborative software projects are in the works that will transform a spare computer, or one built from off-the-shelf parts, into a homemade digital video recorder, or DVR.
Business 2.0

Putting Online Ads in Context

Overture and Google have figured out how to sell the Web. Paid search has already saved Yahoo -- and your business might be next. The long-awaited "30-second spot for the Web" -- a way for ads to finally work online -- may well be at hand. Overture (OVER), the company some say saved Yahoo's (YHOO) bacon, will shortly roll out a service that opens up the entire Web to a new form of advertising. "It's potentially revolutionary," says Scott Moore, who oversees Slate and MSNBC.com for Microsoft (MSFT). How revolutionary? Moore says using Overture's new service, or one like it, could well push his sites to sustained profitability.